Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Hunter Becomes the Hunted

I'll let you in on a secret: my tactics for racing during a 5k. These tactics are sensible, but take practise to execute to perfection and don't always guarantee success. After the start I ignore my opposition and begin at even pacing to produce a finish time I know I'm capable of running. This is harder than it sounds, as adrenaline is high at the start of a short race. Many runners fly off with Usain Bolt-like acceleration. I ignore these speedsters and settle into my even-paced rhythm, running by feel (feeling a bit slow usually ends up being perfect).

After about 500 metres I look ahead (it's always ahead) to spot my opposition. Last Saturday this was Jim (red singlet) and Graeme (aqua long-sleeve shirt). I keep running evenly and this is usually enough to gradually shrink the gap. By 2k I was just 10 metres behind Jim but Graeme seemed to be out of reach, still about 50 metres ahead. I quickly drew level with Jim and passed him before the turn. In the middle of a 5k my even-paced running continues (it feels like I'm running faster). On Saturday this saw me drawing away from Jim, then just after 3k (somewhat surprisingly), rapidly gaining on Graeme (running next to a lady in black).

If I'm even with my opposition at the 4k mark of a 5k I begin my long surge for the finish. Sprinting isn't my forte so I like to get away from my opposition well before they get a sniff of the finish line. Such was the case on Saturday — I drew level with Graeme, sensed he was weakening, and moved ahead. In retrospect I should have overtaken with more authority and perhaps he would have thrown up the white flag. He didn't. The hunter had become the hunted. My tactic in the final kilometre of a 5k is to keep running hard and save my alactic energy (modest sprint) for the last 150 metres. At the Tuggeranong Parkrun there's a small hill 150 out and I sprinted off that as hard as I could. I thought I was destined for a 'win' but with 50 to go Graeme flew past with a devastating sprint. Bastard!

I'd run a Parkrun PB (22:52), so happy with that, but not happy to lose the race with Graeme by one lousy second! My k splits had been 4:31, 4:35, 4:37, 4:37 and 4:32. My goal this year is to run 21:59 (or better) for 5k so to be less than a minute away from that goal is encouraging. I'm also looking forward to more exciting races. Love racing!

Go! Graeme (aqua shirt), myself behind John in blue shirt

Sprinting, Graeme in hot pursuit — Tuggeranong Parkrun


Blogger Thomas said...

I use the opposite tactic - go out hard and hang on grimly towards the end. It's generally very painful and doesn't work every time, but when it does work I have set times I would not have thought possible.

Mind, I do not recommend that tactic for anything longer than 5k!

11:45 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Ha, Thomas I like that tactic! Reminiscent of Steve Jones in the Chicago Marathon of '85, running the first half in a ridiculous 61:42. I'm a bit of a girly wuss to try it, even for a 5k, knowing the drawn out pain that I'll be about to suffer.

3:35 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done on the Parkrun PB. The improvement over the past 5 months has been steady. Your splits show that there wasn’t much wrong with those tactics on Saturday, but as your title implies, unless you demolish your prey, he takes over the psychological advantage of the hunter.

5:14 am  
Blogger Janene said...

Good going ET. Looking forward to more race reports :-).

6:45 am  
Blogger Mark Watson said...

You are flying home Ewen. Footstrike perfect, back-kick strong, arm carry purposeful and headposition balanced. Metranome like splits too. Trust me, Graemes days are numbered ... Revenge will be sweet.

1:05 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Canute, thanks. The psychological difference between hunter and hunted is huge. If one had a strong kick the best tactic would be to remain the hunter until the last possible moment.

Thanks J. I'll hold back on the boring reports (such as starting a track 5000 in second last out of six and staying there).

Thanks Mark - you make me sound like a good runner! It will be sweet!

6:59 pm  
Blogger Jog Blog said...

Nice work. I think 21.59 could be tomorrow for you! Go get it :)

4:36 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Liz. Love your confidence! Won't be tomorrow as I've decided to run tempo effort rather than flat out - feel I need a break from the weekly hard racing routine.

6:37 pm  
Blogger Paul said...

Good work Ewen. I find 5k the hardest distance to pace well and rarely run it as fast as I think I should. Great to see your even splits. Hope you get your goal time soon :-)

10:53 am  
Blogger Jog Blog said...

Next Sat then? :)

5:36 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Paul. Our course is great for practising even splits as it's almost flat. Even splits work best (fastest time) from 5k up. Maybe not the best tactic if you're racing particular people though.

Liz, if training goes well during the coming week... 22:30 is the next target - 21:59 could be a year-long project.

6:32 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent news that you're getting your speed back and it's showing with improved race times! I like your race tactics too, I prefer to start off a little slower as it's much more fun being able to finish strong rather than blowing up & struggling to finish. You're so lucky to have a regular group to race against!

8:47 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Fiona, those are great tactics for fast times - I've just watched the 10k from the Pre meet http://www.usatf.tv/gprofile.php?mgroup_id=45365&do=videos&video_id=116936 where they ran 2:40-42 ks for the first 8k - beautiful pacing. Yes, it's a great group - I really enjoy racing there.

8:25 am  
Blogger Raina R. said...

Ah!! Thanks for the fun trip into your racing brain!
Nicely done, Ewen. :)
I suppose my strategy has to be better thought out for my next one. Even splits are desirable, but it's hard to really get them in the 5k. Most often my second mile is pathetic. I can usually rally in the last mile. Oh.. wait.. you think in terms of K's. Well divide it in thirds. The middle third lags a bit as I start to think it will burn FOREVER.. then I realize I have only a third left and muster what I can. Usually some 16 year old boy that hasn't got a clue what he's doing will pass me at the finish line. ha!
Congrats on your awesome race! Keep the entertaining posts coming :)

9:06 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Raina. My racing brain is an open book. Ah, I don't mean empty. Well, it's full of running :)
Your 5k method is pretty much how most people race them, especially youngsters. It's probably a 'natural' way - start fast, hang on in the middle, finish fast.

8:43 pm  
Blogger Grellan said...

Smart racing tactic indeed Ewen. They say that with age comes wisdom. To knock a minute off that is still a very challenging target for a 5k, but as you say it won't come overnight.

5:05 am  
Blogger Black Knight said...

A very good improvement, well done. I think that the Parkruns are the best races ever: every saturday, wonderful scenery, many runners and a lot of fun.

4:56 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Grellan - wish I'd been this wise 20 years ago ;-)

Thanks Stefano. Yes, Parkrun is fantastic - love it!

2:25 pm  

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